Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Cruise Weekly Comment: Antarctica
Cruise Weekly – Comment by Roderick Eime
It's becoming cliché to call Antarctica the planet's last wilderness adventure, but it's almost certainly still true.
The doddle over the Drake Passage from Tierra del Fuego is nearly a commute for the 20-plus vessels that ply the relatively calm waters of the Peninsula each year. So now the bar needs raising and operators are looking more and more at the 'heroic' voyage from either Hobart or Christchurch to the far south regions of Commonwealth Bay and McMurdo Sound.
Once the sole domain of Quark Expeditions' rugged icebreaker, Khapitan Khlebnikov, she is now joined by vessels from Aurora, Orion and Heritage. This year German line Hapag-Lloyd will again send their luxury expedition vessel MS Bremen on two month-long voyages to the extreme south.
For those with a burning desire, this is the ultimate expedition 'cruise', although 'cruise' it is not. Before you shed five figures for the voyage, just bear in mind you'll be crossing the wildest seas in the world en route to the most ferocious environment our planet can deliver. It is not for the faint hearted.
However those who steel themselves for this extreme adventure will be rewarded with experiences unparalleled by any other voyage, including the North Pole. You may see the rare Emperor Penguin or visit bases built one hundred years ago for explorers like Mawson, Shackleton and Scott plus visit existing scientific outposts.
But make this choice carefully.